I’ve been asked multiple times by numerous clients, “Does (my pet) really need that vaccine? Why do they need so many?”. There is a misunderstanding by some that vaccines do more harm than good or are not necessary. These groups think Doctors, Veterinarians in particular, do them because we are money hungry and believe we are “over vaccinators”. I completely understand a new pet owner asking these questions and I am thrilled to answer any and all questions that clients have, especially new pet owners. So, when I hear this question, I typically go into a spiel about what each vaccine is for, the prevalence of these diseases, what the diseases look like in a sick pet, why it is important, how the vaccine prevents disease, etc.
The truth? The truth is I don’t want to treat the disease! Plain and simple. If I was in this only for the money, I would be an under vaccinator, because you know what, I would make a lot more money if we didn’t have vaccines. 5 days of hospitalization to treat a puppy who contracted Parvo virus can cost thousands! The vaccine to prevent the disease costs my client $25.
The other real truth, I REALLY REALLY don’t want see your pet sick. I project onto pets and their families and every pet that I see, I see my own heart pet in them. I don’t want to take your brand new puppy and best friend away from you for a week to hospitalize. I really don’t want to tell you your puppy is fighting for its life at 10 weeks old and no matter what I do, he/she may not survive. I don’t want to tell you that your dog has a disease that can not only kill it but also make everyone person in your home seriously ill. I don’t want to see your kitten contract a viral disease and have chronic respiratory infections for the rest of its life. If your cat contracts one of the several viruses that causes respiratory infections, there honestly isn’t much I can do. I will treat your little kitten with all the supportive care, medical knowledge, and resources that I have available but once they have that virus, it’s not going anywhere.
Yes, their immune system will get better over time and defend off diseases like a champ but a vaccine is a leg up on the competition. It is the safest and most controlled way we can expose our pets to a pathogen so they can learn to fight against it on their own when they inevitably encounter it in real life. It’s like training for a boxing match before the big fight. The vaccine shows the body what its up against first and then they’re much more prepared for the real fight.
I love vaccines because they keep pets healthy, including my own. Of course there are ethics behind the use of vaccines. We don’t vaccinate a pet when it is already sick. Not all pets need every vaccine and should only be given vaccines based on regional risk and lifestyle. Some pets have allergic reactions and this cannot be predicted. There are also vaccines that have come and gone over time and protocols are sometimes changed but it is 100% in the best interest of our furry family members. I will treat the disease if I have to and I will give it all I’ve got but I’d much rather prevent it. Vaccinate your pets!
Please consult your local veterinarian about which vaccines are appropriate (and/or required by law) for your pet.
-Dr Jessica Maines, Veterinarian